How do people navigate the supermarket?

Connoisseurs of oddball consumer research will savor the findings of a Wharton School study on the typical paths consumers take through supermarkets. After attaching ID tags to shopping carts, researchers used a multivariate clustering algorithm (and who among us does not?) to map out such paths. It turns out, for example, that shoppers rarely make it down to the end of an aisle. Instead, they make short forays into aisles, then scurry back to the perimeter. And that perimeter is the shopper’s comfort zone, evidently. “Whereas previous folklore perpetuated the myth that the perimeter of the store was visited incidental to successive aisle traverses, we now know that it often serves as the main thoroughfare, effectively a home base from which shoppers take quick trips into the aisles.” (Nice to have that bit of folklore exposed for what it is, eh?) Have you often wondered whether people move through the supermarket in a clockwise or counterclockwise direction? This study has the answer: “Shoppers prefer a counter-clockwise shopping experience.” They also speed up as they approach the checkout counters. Then again, readers may do the same as they approach the end of an AdFreak posting.

—Posted by Mark Dolliver